Reds principal owner Marge Schott said Friday ''no way'' does she want her new ballpark built on the so-called Wedge site on the Cincinnati riverfront.
Jim Bowden, the club's general manager, confirmed the sentiment Friday, saying the only place the Reds want a new stadium is just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge. The Wedge is east of the bridge, between Riverfront Coliseum and Cinergy Field.
Mrs. Schott has said previously she also did not want a stadium at Broadway Commons, well north of the riverfront.
''We've said in all of the negotiating sessions that the site is not negotiable,'' Mr. Bowden said. ''Mrs. Schott has been very clear that the site she wants is the site west of the Roebling bridge.''
Mrs. Schott, suspended by Major League Baseball from running the Reds' day-to-day operations until after the 1998 season, made her comment just before Friday night's game against the Marlins. She was asked about the stadium location as she was walking her pet St. Bernard off the field.
''The Wedge? No way,'' she told The Enquirer.
The comments run counter to the posture of John Allen, her replacement as managing executive. Mr. Allen has said for nearly three months that the Wedge is intriguing if the engineers can make it work.
Friday night, Mr. Allen said the Wedge site is still on the table. But he reiterated the Reds' desire to be west of the bridge.
''From Day One, we've always said we wanted west of the bridge,'' Mr. Allen said. ''Neither one of us likes the Broadway Commons site ... But I'm trying to keep the negotiations out of the papers.''
An adviser to Mrs. Schott, who declined to speak on the record, said Mrs. Schott's ''no way'' comment didn't really mean no way.
''She doesn't like the (Wedge),'' the adviser said. ''But she's open to anything. She thinks it's too tight, that it's too close to the coliseum and Cinergy.''
Asked what happens if Mr. Allen and Mrs. Schott can't agree on a site, the adviser said, ''It will be worked through.''
The adviser said Mrs. Schott was unavailable for further comment Friday night.
''Look,'' the adviser said, ''she wants an old-fashioned, wrought-
iron, brick ballpark for Cincinnati, with space big enough to have other complementary items - and thinks the space big enough is west of the bridge. But when she says 'No way,' that doesn't mean she (won't) consider everything. She will.''
''This is the problem the county has had in dealing with the Reds,'' said Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin. ''People criticized us for dealing with (Bengals owner) Mike Brown first. They spoke with one voice. With the Reds, it's mixed signals. Who is running the show?''
Hamilton County Commission President Bob Bedinghaus said Friday night private negotiations don't mirror public words.
''We seem to be moving forward more rapidly in the last month than at any point,'' Mr. Bedinghaus said. ''Based on the tenor and pace, I'm still cautiously optimistic for a deal. In dealing with Mrs. Schott, I find her to be willing to look at all sides of the issue while still maintaining pretty adamant views about things that she is looking at.''
While under suspension, Mrs. Schott is not supposed to talk to the press for another two months. Acting Commissioner Bud Selig reportedly denied her permission recently to comment on stadium issues.
Meanwhile, sources indicated Friday the Reds and city of Newport, Ky., through intermediaries, have discussed some concepts of a ballpark in connection with that community's re-development plans.
But Mrs. Schott's adviser said Friday night the club is not negotiating with Northern Kentucky.
Said Mr. Allen: ''We're dealing in good faith with Hamilton County.''
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BALLPARK DEBATE LINGERS ON April 6, 1997
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KENTUCKY DESERVES REDS, TOOApril 6, 1997
April 6, 1997
REDS PLAN SEAT LICENSING March 14, 1997
REDS TOLD BENGALS NOT PICKING SITE March 12, 1997
MAYOR SUPPORTS BROADWAY March 5, 1997
DESPITE FLOOD, REDS DON'T WAVER FROM RIVER March 5, 1997
BASEBALL ON MAIN PROPOSED Feb. 26, 1997
WEDGE SITE GETS BOOST FROM COUNTY Feb. 22, 1997
REDS, COUNTY RESUME STADIUM TALKS Feb. 19, 1997
ONLY CRIME IS NOT CONSIDERING BROADWAY Feb. 18, 1997
RIVER SITE OR LAWSUIT Feb. 15, 1997
REDS ARE READY TO PLAY HARDBALL Feb. 15, 1997
SCHOTT THREATENS TO MOVE IF REDS AREN'T ON RIVER Feb. 14, 1997